Samantha Barks and Stephanie McKeon bring Elsa and Anna magically to life in the show-stopping Frozen, playing now at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
“There’ll be actual real live people
It’ll be totally strange”
Let’s be honest, you already know whether you’re going to see Frozen or not, there’s nothing any review could say that will change your mind. Such was the enormity of Disney’s 2013 juggernaut of a success, anchored by the ubitiquity of its signature song ‘Let It Go’, the only surprise it that is has taken this long to arrive as a musical.
As it was, we can blame Covid for its delayed opening here (and perhaps also its premature closing on Broadway), but Michael Grandage’s fine production is bracingly fresh in the retooled Theatre Royal Drury Lane, accompanied by Christopher Oram’s breathtaking scenic design, a raft of ‘how-did-they…’ special effects from Jeremy Chernick and of course, some lung-busting songs.
For those that would sneer (in a similar way to Wicked), Jennifer Lee’s book is actually its own breath of fresh air. A tale of the complexity and profundity of sisterhood and self-acceptance, channelled through a Disney filter of course but none the less affecting for it. And it loses none of its power on stage, ultimately only Olaf fails to quite make the same effective transfer IRL.
Samantha Barks’ controlled Elsa and Stephanie McKeon’s more carefree Anna compare and contrast beautifully in these leading roles, supported effectively by the broader strokes of Oliver Ormson’s Hans and Obioma Ugoala’s Kristoff, bringing light and shade into their lives, not necessarily respectively… Together, they really do bring Arendelle to vivid life.
Naturally, they’re assisted by the wonders of Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s score. Barks and McKeon sound like a dream together and they’re actually blessed with an extra duet here in ‘I Can’t Lose You’. Indeed there’s a lot of extra material incorporated into this score, songs that were cut from the film and so with the lack of familiarity compared to say ‘For The First Time in Forever’ and ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’, these additions have more work to do and I’m not sure they’re always quite of the same standard.
But I’m just being picky really, as the joys of Frozen come in just throwing yourself full pelt into its world of wonder and daring to dream that you too can belt like the storm rages on. A blockbuster success.